Walking on Thick Ice

Survey grids with War of 1812 Perry Monument in background

By: Zaakiyah Cua

It’s closing in on sunset and a group of three IUP Applied Archaeology M.A. students along with their professor work quickly collecting geophysical data several meters offshore on Misery Bay of Presque Isle State Park. As they work, a deep guttural groan comes from the ice, roaring under them and shooting off across the bay as quickly as it came. The students pause, look around, and continue their work. They have been hearing these noises from the over 12” thick ice surface all weekend, and have grown accustomed to the strange, eerie sounds. Two weekends ago, IUP Applied Archaeology students and professors conducted a geophysical survey of the frozen Misery Bay under the direction of Dr. Ben Ford, Dr. William Chadwick, and myself. The project was funded through a grant from the Regional Science Consortium and received full support from the PA DCNR and the PA Sea Grant. After spending a weekend on the groaning, moaning Misery Bay, I have come to find out that these sounds mentioned above do not necessarily indicate dangerous ice, they are a product of warming and cooling temperatures.

Day 1 GPR

Presque Isle State Park is in Erie, Pennsylvania and consists of a geologic spit complex, essentially a large peninsula sticking out from the mainland. Misery Bay consists of 200+ acres and is situated on the southeastern side of the peninsula. The goals of this project were to test the use of geophysical methods on the ice surface to determine if terrestrial methods could fit into the shallow water niche often difficult to survey with deep water equipment. Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) and gradiometry were the two methods chosen for the project. If successful, not only would this methodology guide subsequent diver surveys, but it could be successful in locating submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks. Misery Bay was the perfect place to conduct this study as it offered an ice surface associated with a rich maritime history tracing back to at least the War of 1812. First a brief history…

Ross Owen collecting gradiometer data

During the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States of America, it was evident that control of the Great Lakes was crucial to victory. The Presque Isle spit formed a natural barrier for the US to build their naval fleet and was utilized for this purpose. A naval base was established on the peninsula, and Misery Bay was utilized to build and repair ships. Following the Battle of Lake Erie, and the US victory, Misery Bay was also used to scuttle, or intentionally sink, some of the warships for preservation, and later use. Since then, two ships have been raised, restored, and used as naval museums. The Erie Maritime Museum, Flagship Niagara, PASST (Pennsylvania Archaeological Shipwreck Survey Team), and other entities have conducted incredible research pertaining to the War of 1812 and the Battle of Lake Erie. Since 1812 and into more recent times, many vessels have been deposited in Misery Bay. With this history in mind, the bay offered an ideal location to test the methods with the possibility of identifying locations of vessels.

PASST divers in their element

In the three days the survey was conducted, major collaborative efforts between IUP researchers, the PA DCNR, PA Sea Grant, and PASST contributed to an incredibly successful project. Anomalies of interest were identified in the geophysical data, one of which was preliminarily investigated by the PASST divers on the last day of survey. The PASST team cut through the ice, dove down to identify if the anomaly was actually something, and positively identified a structure buried in bay floor sediments. What’s really cool about the PASST team, is that the members are certified divers who partake in survey work as a hobby and have true passion for what they do. During the weekend, IUP researchers also interacted with interested members of the public who stopped by to ask what we were doing out on the ice. These ranged from ice fishermen who shared the bay with us each day to weekend travelers. Finally, the IUP team spoke with the media regarding the survey and its implications to future work. It was definitely an experience talking with the media – it you get a chance, check out the Erie News Now coverage of our work.

Day 1 Pre-Project photo with DCNR and Sea Grant staff.

While the bulk of the post-fieldwork analysis is still underway, this project was quite successful. It offered an incredible opportunity to be involved in truly collaborative work with state agencies, funding entities, avocational groups, the public, and the media. Additionally, the project offered myself and other students involved professional development and a unique set of field skills to add to our toolkits. I especially want to acknowledge the two IUP graduate students who aided with the fieldwork; Steven Campbell and Ross Owen, we couldn’t have done it without your help! Overall this was a phenomenal experience. We lucked out with solid ice and good weather, pulled off a super successful project.



“Me Too”: Taking a Stance Against Work-Place Harassment in Archaeology

By: Genevieve Everett

I’ve been thinking a lot about the “Me Too” movement and how women have been affected by work related harassment and assault within the field of Archaeology. As a woman coming to the end of my graduate studies, I am preparing for a future of working as a “field-based scientist”. I have been thinking about what it means to be a woman in the sciences, and the unpleasant experiences so many women have experienced and endured in the not so distant past. I obviously cannot speak for every individual that identifies as female, but I can say that the subject of work place harassment and assault has only recently been publicly addressed, and quantified in two well-known (within the field of Archaeology) surveys. The results of the surveys were provided by the Southeastern Archaeological Conference (SEAC) in “Preliminary Results of the SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey” (Meyers et al. 2015), and in the article, “Survey of Academic Field Experiences (SAFE): Trainees Report Harassment and Assault” (Clancy et al. 2014). While the SEAC survey is very important, and sheds light on improper work related harassment (when is it ever proper?) specific to archaeology, I am going to briefly discuss the SAFE survey.

It should be noted, not all respondents to the SAFE survey were Archaeologists, however, Archaeologists did account for 159 of the respondents (23%), out of a total of 666 total respondents (Clancy et al. 2014). The SAFE survey was distributed as a link through email and social media calling for field-based scientists, such as CRM professionals. Participants were asked to respond to a series of questions pertaining to age, gender, etc. And most importantly, questions related to sexual harassment and assault, whether personal or observed.

In terms of demographics, the results indicate that 77.5% of the respondents were women (Clancy et al. 2014). Likewise, various respondents provided varying sexual orientations and ethnicities, however, majority of respondents were heterosexual and white. Professionally, respondents included, students (grad/undergrad), professors (of all levels), researchers, and all others outside of the field of academia. Long story short, the survey indicated that women at the “Trainee” level of the employment ladder provided that they have experienced either harassment, assault, or both at higher rates than any other professional. For example, 84% of women at the trainee level indicated that they have experienced some sort of work related harassment, while women in “higher” positions experienced lower rates of harassment (Clancy et. al 2014). In the survey, most women indicated that the perpetrators were higher on the “professional hierarchy”, people in “power”.

If we look at trends of the “Me Too” movement, women around the country are coming out with allegations against men of “power”, individuals that control the purse strings. It might not seem like it, but what’s happening in Hollywood and politics is also happening in Archaeology (made clear in the SAFE survey), and it has been happening for a very long time. I’ve heard people say, “Why are women all of a suddenly speaking out?” They’re not “suddenly” speaking out, many women have come forward, but we haven’t heard about it, because the individuals that are, are either not famous enough or they have been ordered under legal agreements to keep silent about the case. I think it’s great that the systemic problem of work place harassment and assault are being addressed in our field, but more needs to be done. I’d be very curious to see the results of a similar survey now, in 2018, when women are banding together to support one another and speak out. I’d like to see responses to how men and women would like to see and contribute to a safe working environment. How can this be achieved? I completely agree with Clancy and her colleagues that the only way to improve the unwanted and uncomfortable situations in the field is, “raising awareness of the presence of hostile work behaviors, discrimination, harassment, and assault (particularly women); creating guidelines for respectful behavior; and adopting independent reporting and enforcement mechanisms” (Clancy et al. 2014). The only way forward is to re-educate professionals, for BOTH men and women at all levels of the profession to take a hard stance against work place assault and harassment, and support those that still fall victim to these experiences.


Growing Up In Cemeteries, Pt 2.

By: Zane Ermine

Hello everyone! This is Zane Ermine again with another blog post! This week I’m going to be talking about headstone symbolism throughout the last 300 or so years in North America. (I should note that this is an extremely brief generalization based off of my previous knowledge and some basic research).

Headstones and cemetery engravings have changed drastically throughout the years. From the onset of using stone markers to designate burials, there were often intricate designs incorporated with the name, birth and death dates of the individual onto the face of the stone. These were usually carved with a hammer and chisel and due to the time and effort that were necessary to process an individual monument, set designs were chosen and offered to the families. These designs had themes that were common throughout the industry.

Here are just a handful of the more common symbols:

Dogwood – often a symbol of Christianity, it can also represent eternal life and resurrection.

Dove Often representative of the Holy Spirit, also symbolizes peace in death or the ascension to Heaven.


Draped Urn – the urn is an ancient symbol of death – often draped with a cloth to represent a separation between life and death

Draped Urn

Wheat – the Grim Reaper is generally depicted as carrying a scythe – can represent a life well lived, harvested at its time.

Lamb – common on children’s stones, it can represent innocence – a lamb in Jesus’ flock



Example of Greek temple style monument

Eventually, tombstones grew into a status symbol – you can often tell which family had the most money by their large and intricately carved family stone. These headstones were often influenced by the popular architecture of the time; you can find Egyptian or Greek style stones during their respective revivals between the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Around the 1930s, some companies began slowly adopting sandblast technology to engrave their headstones. Rubber was (and still is) used as a stencil to prevent the sand from eroding sections of the stone that are meant to remain untouched. The technology has remained relatively stable since this period, despite varying methods for attaching the rubber and the introduction of computer software. Currently, adhesive-backed rolls of rubber are cut from a stencil cutting machine and placed on the blank monument die. The machine cuts the stencil directly from a CAD program and a to scale computer draft of the stone.

A modern headstone, showing detailed sandblast work. The 3 symbols across the bottom represent the deceased’s various hobbies.

These days, symbolism seems to have taken a back seat to artistic creativity. Modern technology has drastically increased the range of designs that can be placed onto a monument – instead of hand-carving designs, computers and automated sandblast machines do much of the work. Some of the older staples, such as dogwood, doves, roses, or clasping hands have stuck around, although this is more likely due to tradition or aesthetic values, rather than symbolism. Customers can now choose from wider range of designs including sports emblems, cartoon characters, or a variety of animals or vehicles. The art of tombstone design has shifted from inert symbolism to a more blatant pictorial representation of an individual’s life.

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Images Referenced:





Growing Up In Cemeteries Pt. 1

By: Zane Ermine

Hello everyone! My name is Zane Ermine and I’m a second year graduate student of the Applied Archaeology program. Gen had originally asked me to write a post about what I had done this summer. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get away from work for a long enough period, so I didn’t really have time for anything archaeology related. So, I’ve decided to share a hobby of mine – something related to historic preservation in which my dad and I have been volunteering our time for the last 5 or so years.

My dad and I take pictures of tombstones. It sounds weird when you put it bluntly like that, but there’s a legitimate reason for it – genealogy. The pictures are taken for a group called BillionGraves; their purpose is to allow individuals to easily find their loved one’s headstones and graves through the internet. It has the secondary (but in my opinion, significantly more important) function of recording cemetery data for the longevity and digitalization of cemetery records.

BillionGraves has a model similar to Find-A-Grave, the popular cemetery search engine that’s been around for years. Where they differ is that BillionGraves is trying to document entire cemeteries with GPS coordinates, as well as a photo for each individual burial. After the photos are uploaded, other volunteers transcribe the information carved onto the stone so that it becomes searchable.

It can be hard to understand the importance of this kind of documentation until you are in a cemetery where most of the headstones are unreadable from the wear of time. Headstones have been particularly affected in SW PA due to industrialization and acid rain. Losing a headstone is akin to losing an entire person – but somehow it happens all the time. Cemeteries overgrow, stones weather, and people forget. It’s a sad truth, but with photographs and written records, some of the loss can be mitigated.

Since I’ve started photographing for the site, I’ve taken 59,954 pictures in 401 cemeteries across 9 states. I don’t know how many entire cemeteries we’ve taken, but it’s definitely over 100 at this point.

My family has been in the monument industry for over 100 years – I grew up in cemeteries, and through the family business, I spend a lot of time in cemeteries. It’s amazing to see all the different levels of craftsmanship, the different stone materials, and how the styles have evolved over the years – and through a process like this, I can experience every stone in a cemetery individually. It’s something I thoroughly enjoy while also taking comfort in knowing that the information can be genuinely useful in the long run.

I’m going to leave you with some of the most famous headstones I’ve personally taken for the site. If anyone has any questions, I can be reached at ddkw@iup.edu.

Andy Warhol – St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery, Bethel Park, PA

Herbert Morrison – Scottdale Cemetery, Scottdale, PA The radio announcer for the Hindenburg Disaster (Oh, the humanity!)


Mister Fred Rogers –- Unity Cemetery, Latrobe, PA buried in his mother’s family’s mausoleum

Edward “Blackbeard” Teach – Ocracoke Island, NC Has no headstone, decapitated and buried at sea, marker is the closest thing to a headstone

Francis Scott Key – Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick, MD Wrote the Star-Spangled Banner


Zane’s father (far left), Zane (next to his father), and two of their workers rotated this statue, because it was facing away from the cemetery.



My summer as a PHAST intern

By: Genevieve Everett

PHAST 2017 Crew (from left to right: Sami, Zaakiyah, Gen)

This is going to sound real cliché, but time flies when you’re having fun! That’s exactly how I feel about this past summer as a PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team (PHAST) intern. Last day of Spring 2017 classes was Friday May 12th, so my parents came to visit me in Pittsburgh that weekend as a celebration for finishing my first year of graduate school. The following Monday, May 15th was our first day of work. Yes, not much of a break, but that’s being in grad school! Our first week was basically orientation where Joe Baker, the PHAST Supervisor told us that if we weren’t feeling lost during our first few weeks of work there was something wrong with us. Well, speaking for myself, I was definitely feeling a bit lost and rusty in the digging shovel test pit department since it had been quite some time, but after a couple of weeks of doing it day after day I was becoming more confident in my work.

A friendly little sheep at one of our projects

We were immersed in CRM life: living out of a suitcase, staying in hotels, and eating out for every meal. Our projects took us to different counties all over the Common Wealth, which was probably one of my favorite aspects about this job. We saw parts of Pennsylvania that I would have otherwise skipped over on the way to other places. Pennsylvania is BEAUTIFUL! Most of the work we were doing was Phase I (bridge replacements/rehabilitation), however, we did do some Phase II work, several GPR surveys, metal detecting, cleaning/cataloging artifacts, mapping in ArcGIS, and writing reports.

Old wooden boxcar at the Muddy Creek Forks project

One of my favorite projects this summer was a Phase I/II at historic Muddy Creek Forks Village in York County. We excavated around the railroad Section House built by the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad in the early 20th century for the Section Gang. The Section Gang maintained 10 miles of track year round, storing their track car and tools in the Section House. The Ma & Pa Railroad was an important part of industrial life in early-mid 20th century, making it easier for individuals to travel between York and Baltimore and to ship/receive goods. The Section House is an important resource for understanding what early-mid 20th century life may have been like for railroad workers. Eventually, the Section House will be raised onto a new foundation, and rehabilitated for future generations to enjoy along the walking path at the Ma & Pa Railroad Historic Village. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area, visit this site.

All in all, it has been an incredible and educational summer. As much as I love being out in the field I am definitely ready to start back up with classes and work on my thesis!

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Taking 3D Modeling to New Heights (by Jared Divido)

For the past year and a half, I have been working on an ongoing thesis project that seeks to test the feasibility of 3D laser scanning in a zooarchaeological context.  I have been using the NextEngine HD Scanner and the MakerBot 3D Digitizer to scan bones from various species of waterfowl (Figure 1). You can read more about my project here:

Left: humerus of a Black Duck (Anas rubripes). Right: using the 3D scanner and imaging software.

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Benjamin Ford to test 3D technologies on a much larger scale.  In the process, I’ve acquired new knowledge about 3D techniques, and their response to different environments.  The goal of this mini project was to create miniature 3D replicas of two buildings on the Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s campus, which included McElhaney Hall and Sutton Hall.  After my first brain storming session, I thought that photogrammetry would be the best technique to construct the 3D models.  Photogrammetry is a 3D modeling method in which you take multiple overlapping images around an object of interest.  The researcher then imports the photographs into photogrammetry software, and the software uses references points from the photos to build a “mesh cloud” of the object.

After multiple attempts of using this technique, I quickly discovered that it would not work with all of the beautiful foliage that encompasses the buildings. The shifting background lighting in the sky and the height of the building features also created additional issues when it came to stitching all of the images together.  The resulting photogrammetry model of McElhaney (below) turned out slightly wavy and distorted in sections where tree limbs were obstructing features of the building.  The use of drone technology may have alleviated some of these problems since a drone’s camera can capture detail that cannot be photographed from the ground.  However, potential safety issues prohibit the use of drone technology near academic buildings.  So… I had to get creative and use of a mixture of the photographs and pre-existing satellite imagery from Google Maps (2017) to construct the building models.  I was able to pull the map data into a 3D modeling program called SketchUp, and I used the satellite maps to obtain reference points for the scale and size of the buildings.  From there, I imported the photographs and manually overlay the architectural features (e.g., stairs, windows, and porches) of the buildings using the build tools in SketchUp.  A comparison between the photogrammetry model and manually created SketchUP model are linked below.  The rationale for manually adding in architectural features was to emphasize them for 3D printing

Photogrammetry (left) and SketchUP Build (right) rending of McElhaney Hall.

In the end, the 3D models of the buildings may not have turned out to be exact replicas of their original forms due to some of the issues mentioned above.  However, this project has taught me a lot about the potential advantages and disadvantages of using 3D techniques at larger scales and changing environments.  The resulting models are optimized for 3D printing, which means some of the textural features had to be simplified or eliminated to make the models more structurally sound and printer friendly.  At present, I am using the MakerBot 3D Replicator to “build” miniature tabletop replicas of the buildings.


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My Research Experience for Summer Scholars by Harley Burgis

This summer I entered the Research Experience for Summer Scholars (RESS) program, so I could study zooarchaeology more intensively. The program and the research led to a great experience for me to have during my undergraduate years. Generally, I spent most of my time conducting my research, which was faunal analysis from previous excavations at the Johnston site (36IN0002). For my project, I identified and analyzed faunal remains from the western section of the site, that were recovered during the 2012 excavations. Specifically, I identified bones to their elements, genus, and species when applicable. This project has really been able to help me work on my identification skills and to solidify my desire to study zooarchaeology.

Working in the faunal lab in McElhaney Hall

Besides conducting research, I participated is RESS events, which included workshops, presentations, and social events. The social events were fun, because it allowed me the chance to spend time with like-minded people in different fields, which is what this whole program was about. This program allowed me the opportunity to meet other student researchers, as well as gain necessary skills for conducting research. I really enjoyed this program and I would recommend it for others who wish to conduct summer research here at IUP.

faunal material from the Johnston Site excavations.


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Update from the PHAST crew (by Ross Owen)

Each summer, PennDOT hires a field crew to gain experience running archaeological surveys as part of the environmental clearance for PA’s multitude of transportation-related construction projects.  PHAST (PennDOT’s Highway Archaeological Survey Team) is supervised by an IUP graduate student enrolled in the Applied Archaeology MA program – that’s me. This year’s PHAST crew is comprised of three IUP grad students: Genevieve Everett, Sami Taylor, and Zaakiyah Cua. The intricacies of completing archaeological field work in a cultural resource management (CRM) setting can be difficult to fully grasp in a classroom setting, and PHAST allows students to gain valuable working experience and hone their field skills.

Covering the entire state of Pennsylvania, the PHAST crew has a wide variety of projects. The project list and schedule are in a constant state of flux, and the unpredictability of CRM work is readily apparent. Jobs scheduled for a whole week of field work may be completed ahead of schedule if no archaeological sites are found, or if the project area has already been disturbed by modern activity. Similarly, jobs scheduled for a day of work may stretch on for weeks if a site is encountered, or if testing goes especially deep (our .57-cm diameter shovel test occasionally reach a depth of 1-meter before we encounter an appropriate stopping point). CRM work forces you to constantly reassess the situation based on new information, from the planning stages to the actual field work.

The PHAST crew hard at work

This summer started off with a bang. We encountered a prehistoric lithic reduction site on our first project, located in Allegheny County near Chartiers Creek. Within a single 1m x 1m test unit, we recovered over 500 lithic artifacts – mostly flaking debris and cores associated with the production of stone tools. Encountering sites is exciting, but not a daily occurrence in CRM archaeology, as many of our projects since then attest to. Of the 11 projects we’ve completed field work for, only 3 contained sites.

As busy as we’ve been traveling across the state from the Southwestern corner near Prosperity, PA to State College in the Center, and down to Muddy Creek Forks in Southern York County, it’s no wonder the summer is flying by. Helping out at the Hatch Site (see July 3 blog) for three weeks was the longest we’ve been in the same spot, and gave us a rare CRM opportunity to work on a full-scale data recovery project at a known archaeological site.

The PHAST crew at the Hatch site (from left to right: Zaakiyah, Sami, and Gen)

Nearing our final month of field work we have 4 projects that need to be completed. Two consist of the standard survey method of shovel testing the project areas for bridge replacements in Jefferson and Washington Counties, while the other two are Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) surveys to try and locate a French-Indian War Fort in Lehigh County and out-buildings associated with one of the homes in Old Economy Village. There’s always the potential that a few small projects will pop-up before the end of August when classes start and the PHAST crew moves indoors to focus on the lab work, curation, and report writing.  The crew will be employed by PennDOT through the end of October, but I’ll remain the PHAST director until May of 2019 when I graduate – stay tuned for more updates!

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The Juniata College Archaeology Field School (by Chris Swisher)

After classes ended this spring, I had the opportunity and privilege to help supervise the Juniata College Archaeological Field School alongside my former classmate Kate Peresolak and under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Burns of Juniata College. Located in State College, Pennsylvania, the project was a unique experience for a field school because it was a real-world Phase III archaeological project serving as a mitigation for a bike path that will soon have an adverse effect on the site. The James W. Hatch Site, named for the late Penn State University professor, is a lithic reduction site. In other words, this location served as a place where Native Americans would bring nodules of local lithic materials to be worked into stone tools. In this case, the local materials were being quarried from a source of jasper known as the Tudek Quarry at the top of the hill from the Hatch Site.

This site was first discovered during a Phase I and subsequent Phase II project in the summer of 2015 by the PennDOT Highway Archaeological Survey Team (PHAST). This work determined that the Hatch Site was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and the threat of destruction by the bike path required that some sort of mitigation of the site be conducted. In the spirit of creative mitigation, it was decided that an excellent way to include the public, educate students, and of course save money was to make the project a field school for undergraduate students. A total of 11 students participated in the field school from Penn State University, Juniata College, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Also in the mix were a couple of hired field technicians, the PHAST crew (which consists of four IUP grad students), and several hard-working volunteers throughout the four-week excavation.

Left to Right: Kristen, Brendan and I working in the offset test units that would later yield the slag buried deep in the buried plow zone and (far right) VCU student Luciano with the Kirk corner-notched point

We began this project by mechanically stripping the modern plow zone in two 10x10m blocks. Within these blocks, we used a total station to set up two 5x5m blocks to be excavated. The original plan was to excavate 1x1m test units within the blocks divided into 50x50cm quadrants and each screened in 10cm levels. We did this for about a day or two until we found some large chunks of slag at the bottom of the stratum previously thought to be undisturbed. Upon this discovery that the stratum was actually an older plow zone, our strategy changed to excavating the test units by stratum rather than excavating in 10cm levels by quadrants. Once we got through the deepest plow zone we returned to our original strategy in the clay beneath.  Unfortunately, no diagnostic artifacts were found in the intact stratum, but we did find some projectile points in the old plow zone, including a Kirk corner-notched point! This gave the site an Early-Middle Archaic occupation and made the students more excited and motivated to keep up their hard work in the unpredictable weather conditions of central Pennsylvania. We also collected a few charcoal samples from features in the clay that will be radiocarbon-dated.

Left: Bird’s eye view of Blocks A and B with the drone. Right: the crew hard at work in the last week of excavation

This project was great for many reasons, but I will only list three main points here. First, it allowed students an opportunity to work on a real CRM project with a deadline. Second, we all had the opportunity to learn more about using a total station and how much time it saves. Third, the Hatch Site is one of many sites associated with my Master’s thesis, which involves synthesizing data from over 40 nearby archaeological sites unofficially collectively known as the Houserville Archaeological District. The result of my thesis will include an official nomination of the district to the National Register of Historic Places on the basis of its significance as a stone tool production locale in relation to the Tudek Quarry. The field school was an incredible way to get the public involved and teach students while conducting a necessary archaeological endeavor to collect data that would otherwise be lost forever. For more information and photos from the project check out the Juniata College Archaeology Facebook page and The Eclectic Bear blog by PennDOT archaeologist Joe Baker. A big thanks to all of the great students, crew, and volunteers who helped us move so much dirt, and to the many visitors we had over the four-week field school.

Group photo of the students and crew taken in Block A


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Another Fun SPA field trip (by Sarah Neusius)

For the third year in a row Dr. Phil and I have just had a great time participating in the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology (SPA) field trip.  This annual road trip over a long weekend in early June is an opportunity for SPA members and their guests to see some of the fabulous archaeology excavations, sites, and museums within driving distance of Pennsylvania, while also getting to know other professional and avocational archaeologists from across the state.  Dr. John Nass of California University of Pennsylvania and I have done the planning and leading of each field trip, while Dr. Phil has been one of the van drivers.  This year we loaded up two vans and headed north to New York state to visit several museums and their archaeological collections. There was an emphasis on the Iroquois Indian nations of New York although we also learned about other archaeological and anthropological topics and research as well as saw some fabulous contemporary Native American art.

This year’s field trip started with an orientation and social time at our hotel in Binghamton, NY on the evening of Thursday, June 8.  Early Friday morning, June 9, we headed for Albany and the New York State Museum.  This is a museum I feel like I know because of research collaborations, especially the Ripley Archaeological Project, which was an IUP/NYSM project in the 1980s and 1990s.  Dr. Phil and I have been to NYSM many times for research purposes and visited the exhibitions several times.  Nevertheless, the tour organized for our SPA group by Dr. John Hart, Director, Research and Collections Division, gave us a much better sense of the vast collections held by the museum as well as of the variety of archaeological research going on there today.  The NYSM holds more than 16 million objects, specimens and artifacts and its research staff is active in the areas of archaeology, ethnology, paleontology, geology, botany, and history.  On this trip, we were privileged to see specimens and artifacts and hear about research on Paleoindians in New York State, on Iroquoian and Algonquian groups, on historical archaeology done in New York City, on the Albany Almshouse cemetery including the facial reconstructions done for skeletons, and more. We saw a great many really cool artifacts as well as some of Louis Henry Morgan’s ethnological collection, but my favorite thing might have been the huge quantity of maize kernels recovered from a single feature (see photo below) because it really underscores how central maize must have been in people’s diets in Late Pre-Columbian times. The only downside of our trip to the NYSM was that the Research and Collections staff gave us such an interesting and thorough tour that there was limited time to see the exhibits.  A more complete viewing of these will have to wait for another visit to this great museum!

After NYSM we went to the much smaller Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave, New York, a private non-profit educational institution that promotes understanding of Iroquois culture.  It was started by an avocational archaeologist and has large archaeological collections, but it also displays a comprehensive collection of contemporary Native art, a children’s area featuring the Iroquois Creation story, and nature trails, which we did not attempt.  We did, however, get an introduction to the museum from their Archaeology Department head, Fred Stevens, who happens to be a long-time SPA member.

Friday evening we stayed in Schoharie, NY and had an thought provoking lecture on New York State archaeology and the limitations of the culture history approach by Dr. Hart of NYSM. The second day of our fieldtrip, Saturday, June 10, was a little less hectic although we did a lot of driving across much of New York State from Schoharie to Rochester, NY.  We did break the trip with a stop for a picnic lunch and a wine tasting at a winery in Seneca Falls, but before mid-afternoon we arrived at Ganondagan State Historic site and the Seneca Arts and Culture Center in Victor, NY.  This museum is at the site of one of the last large settlements of the Seneca, which was burned by the French early in the historical period.  Here we were given a tour by a young Mohawk interpreter of the newly built center which has fabulous exhibits about the site and traditional Seneca culture, before we were taken to tour the bark longhouse reconstructed on this site.  This is one of the best longhouse reconstructions I have seen with the interior as well as the exterior creating a real sense of these multifamily structures.  Saturday evening in our hotel in Rochester, we had an eye-opening talk by Jay Toth, archaeologist for the Seneca Nation of Indians, about recognizing past cultural landscapes through the plants encountered while surveying.

Sunday we wrapped up our trip with a visit to the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC), another New York Museum with extensive Iroquoian collections. Unfortunately, the museum was experiencing a serious water main break when we arrived, and was in the process of closing.  However, our tour went forward in abbreviated form, and we were very ably led by George Hamell, a noted Iroquoian scholar.  George took us through the exhibits of the Rock Foundation collections displayed at Rochester and into some of the laboratory and collection space. Here too we saw fabulous collections representing early archaeological and ethnological acquisitions.  George also shared with us the Rock Foundation’s position that it does not have to comply with NAGPRA because it is a private, non-profit entity. Some of the objects they hold certainly are sacred objects and objects of national patrimony.  Though technically correct, there are ethical issues related to cultural sensitivity posed by our even being able to view these items, and we had some discussion about this aspect of our visit including that we should be mindful of the privilege we were granted.

By the time we finished our tour, we were the only visitors remaining and even the lights were shutting down; it was actually slightly spooky.  We had a quick picnic lunch in the cafeteria area and left the museum to struggle with its water issues as we headed home to PA. As you can tell, like each previous field trip we have done with the SPA, this year’s trip was full of chances to see and hear about lots of cool archaeology and artifacts as well as to learn from scholar experts and think about topics relevant to archaeology, anthropology, history, and science.  The part that is harder to convey is the fun and camaraderie that developed within the group.  There really is nothing like a road trip with other people interested in similar things, especially when they are archaeologists!  So we recommend that you keep your eyes open for next year’s SPA trip – destination to be determined.  Even if this is not possible, keep in mind that the museums we went to are great places to visit individually as well, so add them to your itinerary when you are in New York State.

IUP Department of Anthropology